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UGANDA: Legislators to investigate spying priests in churches – kano kanyumidde!

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Kampala archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga (R) talks to Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

MPs to probe spying priests in churches

Written by JOSEPHINE NAMULOKI, THE OBSERVER, KAMPALA

A section of Christian legislators want to probe into allegations that the church has been infiltrated by security and intelligence organs to spy for President Yoweri Museveni.

Last week on Good Friday, the archbishop of Kampala diocese Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga revealed that he’d been informed by an anonymous caller that the state had recruited several clergy including priests, nuns, catechists to work as undercover agents. Lwanga said the spy agents have since told President Museveni that the archbishop was plotting to overthrow his government.

During Easter prayers at Rubaga cathedral, Lwanga again talked about state spies within the church. He cited a case of the priest who recently died under unclear circumstances and later the security personnel went to his residence claiming for a gun that the priest had reportedly been using to do their work.Related Stories
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Security minister Gen Elly Tumwiine all but confirmed Lwanga’s fears. In an interview with New Vision, Tumwiine said the state spies on all those doing “wrong things” and that if Lwanga is not doing anything sinister, he has no reason to worry.

Now, led by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, MPs Emmanuel Ssempala Kigozi (Makindye Ssabagabo), Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North) and Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu (Kalungu West), the legislators argue that some of the believers especially in the Catholic church are scared of seeking penitence and holy eucharist owing to suspicion that the presiding priests could be recording their confessions or giving them poison-laced eucharist.

Catholics use penitence to show sorrow and regret for having done wrong while the holy eucharist is a rite that celebrates the death of Jesus Christ. To celebrate the rite, priests with the assistance of nuns serve bread (eucharist) and wine to the faithfuls.

The MPs argue that in his attempts to belittle the church and disorganize power centres, President Museveni is using security organs like CMI, ISO and ESO among others to recruit priests, nuns and other church leaders into spying on each other

The legislators said that it is to the dismay of many Christian believers that the regime has now infiltrated the church with the aim of killing the Catholic institution like the case with Muslims. According to the MPs, it is unfortunate that some priests are being used as intelligence spies, which will in turn kill the trust between the priests and the followers.

Nambooze said that the foundation of the church is the trust between the believers and the priests which all begins with the sacrament of penitence that would require one to have confidence in the priest

“We now fear to go for penitence because you don’t know the priest; you can’t tell whether you are talking to the representative of Jesus or that of Mr. Museveni and if you don’t go for penitence, you cannot go for the sacrament of Eucharist and without it you are faulting greatly on the religious teachings,” Nambooze said.

Ssempala-Kigozi expressed concern that training priests and nuns was so costly yet the state had now turned the church resources into spying devices onto the church. He added that the believers were getting scared of going for Holy Communion or Eucharist for fear that the bread may be laced.

“Training a priest is very expensive and takes a lot of time. I don’t see why Museveni uses priests to satisfy his interests. Now he is using the resources of the church to further his interests that is too much. And not only that, I know well that if an intelligence officer messes up, he is killed does he want to kill our priests?” Ssempala Kigozi said.

The MPs said that if an independent commission of inquiry headed by some of the retired judges in the country is not instituted to investigate Bishop Lwanga’s submissions, they have the capacity to do their own investigations.

“We don’t want this matter to reach the extent where the [Bishop Janan]Luwum-Amin saga reached. Where the archbishop was killed because of the misinformation given to Amin. We have heard that the president has talked to bishop on phone but that is not enough. This is something which touches our faith and we need explanation,” Nambooze said.

“He wants our religious leaders to reach a situation and ask for security so that the UPDF reserve force [crime preventers] of [Blaise] Kamugisha get jobs of admitting and denying admission of members into church the way it has happened with the Muslim sheikhs,” Nambooze added.

The legislators said they were to do more research into the bishop’s submissions over spies and the recent attacks by one Hebert Kaddu on Church of Uganda bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira before coming up with a comprehensive motion to be tabled before parliament.

During Easter prayers, a man identified Kaddu clad in backcloth, with a big stick ran towards, the altar where Bishop Luwalira was conducting service.

“If the report does not come out, we shall make our own report because we have the capacity to make our report. We shall present our facts, government will present their lies and we see what to do [in parliament,]” Ssempala said.

According to the MPs, the attempted attack on Bishop Luwalira was demonstration by the state to the clergy that can pick them even from the altar and if need be, harm them as well.

“I am a victim of grenade attack in September last year but up to now there is not even a provisional report about the attack but with Kaddu, the incident happened on Sunday and the following holiday Easter Monday police was ready with the report to tell the world everything about that man,” Kasibante wondered.

“We suspect this is a gimmick to cause panic among our religious leaders such that they can be subjected to state surveillance because they will have no option to ask any kind of protection. Now every bishop is going to be accorded spies in the names of security. As we talk of this physical security, their integrity is all gone,” Kasibante said.

Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: April 03, 2018 at 08:11PM

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